AMY SCHUMER STRUTS HER STUFF
Comedian tells empowerment tale as Westworld returns, Chris Lackner writes.
MOVIES Big releases on April 20: I Feel Pretty; Super Troopers 2.
Big picture: I Feel Pretty is like Big meet Shallow Hal meets refreshing. Comic Amy Schumer plays a woman who struggles with body image and self-esteem who wakes up from a head injury convinced she looks like a supermodel. And, more importantly, an actress such as Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t play her mirror image — Schumer’s transformed leading lady looks the same. NOTHING has changed other than her confidence and sense of empowerment. Suddenly everyone — friends, bartenders, bar flies and bosses — no longer ignore or overlook her. She feels pretty, but she’s also witty. And wise. (Sorry, couldn’t help it.) Meanwhile, Super Troopers 2 — largely set in a fictional Quebec town — will probably offend more than a few north of the border. The imbecilic Vermont highway patrollers from the original are re-assigned to a town in the midst of an international border dispute. In the followup to the cult comedy classic, many of the jokes are at the expense of the residents of St. Georges Du Laurent. The American patrolmen do everything from speaking in terrible French accents while pretending to be Mounties, to fighting bears and hockey goons. Forecast: I Feel Pretty feels timely. As for the comedy sequel, Canada hasn’t seen this much big-screen lampooning since South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut in 1999. TV Big events: Westworld (April 22, HBO), Mercury 13 (April 20, Netflix). Big picture: Welcome to Westworld, where “amusement” parks are full of sentient, humanoid “hosts” that guests can use and abuse with abandon — only to have their cyborg memories wiped. What could possible go wrong ? As we saw in the first season of this sci-fi epic, the answer is clear: everything. The revolution continues, along with the introduction of new theme parks, including the samurai-themed Shogun World.
The excellent ensemble — including Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, James Marsden and Jeffrey Wright — returns for more violence, mayhem and technology-fuelled existentialist angst. “It’s us or them,” Dolores (Wood), the programmed farmer’s daughter turned violent leader, tells her followers. Without giving too much away for the uninitiated, we humans probably deserve it. Meanwhile, Mercury 13 is a documentary about the 12 astronauts that deserved to walk on the moon, but were held back by NASA because of their gender. Mercury 13 is a fascinating look at a secret program to recruit female astronauts. As one puts it, “If we’re going to send a human being into space, we need to send the ones that are most qualified.” Sound logic, indeed.
Forecast: In season 1, Westworld unexpectedly gave us more answers to its central mysteries than Lost ever did. So expect season 2 to introduce more riddles.
Big releases on April 20: Sting & Shaggy (44/876); Donovan Woods (Both Ways).
Big picture: Yup. Sting (The Police frontman, rock icon) and Shaggy (Boombastic) have made a crossover album together. Sure, no one asked for it. Nevertheless, don’t ask and you shall receive. The British music legend and the Jamaican reggae-pop artist follow a long line of such musical mutants. Aerosmith and RunDMC? Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger? Bing Crosby and David Bowie? However, Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett aside, it isn’t common these days. While explaining their unique chemistry, Sting recently added “We both have ridiculous names.” Nice to know he has a sense of humour. Woods, of Sarnia, Ont., is an indie wonder turned Nashville troubadour and well-regarded producer. Both Ways is his fifth solo album. Coincidentally, Truck Full of Money is the name of his latest single — also what I would give to never see Sting and Shaggy make another album. Forecast: Expect this oddball collaboration to inspire many more. Jay-Z and ZZ Top; Celine Dion and Eminem; Gordon Lightfoot and Justin Bieber. @chrislackner79
Amy Schumer, right, seen with Aidy Bryant, left, and Busy Philipps, returns to the big screen in I Feel Pretty. Schumer gains a new sense of confidence following a head injury.